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IBM Watson has already won at Jeopardy and helped design a cognitive dress for the Met Gala Ball.

While these are impressive feats of cognitive computing, they don’t exactly explain what Watson can do for business.

Fortunately, the answer is it can do basically whatever you want it to. 

Let’s take a look at 5 proven business use cases for IBM Watson

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1. Using Customer Behavior Data to Improve Customer Retention 

Watson’s capabilities to improve customer retention moves well beyond survey results and customer history.

Watson's predictive analysis capabilities take into account customer-specific information, including:

  • - Age
  • - Gender
  • - Dependents
  • - Preferred billing method
  • - Contact preferences 

Watson will also analyze geographic market data, such as property values in a customer’s neighborhood. Point-of-sale data is mixed in along with loyalty program information. 

What emerges is a clear picture of what an individual is most likely to buy, as well as what sales tactics and offers will help retain them as customers.

For cable and internet providers, Watson can be a useful tool for reducing churn, or the loss of customers to competitors.

For retail stores, Watson can craft tailored messages to individual customers that improve response rates. 

2. Taking On Cybercrime with Cognitive Security 

Symantec reported 9 mega-breaches in 2015—a new record—with over half a billion personal information and records lost or stolen.

According to Newsweek, the U.S. government alone was hit with over 77,000 cyber incidents. Cybercrime is only increasing, but with the help of IBM Watson, a new line of defense is also taking shape. 

Every cyber attack generates a ton of information, whether it’s raw data or unstructured data from documented software vulnerabilities, research papers, and blogs.

In fact, up to 80% of data generated is unstructured. While no human can keep up with this amount, Watson can. 

Watson can analyze both structured and unstructured security data. It spots trends and uncovers new insights.

It builds hypothesis and uses evidence-based reasoning to accelerate responses to cybercrime. The more data Watson ingests, the more its cognitive capabilities grow, as does the capabilities for Watson to predict the next wave and type of attacks. 

3. Diagnosing and Treating Disease 

Healthcare technology in actionWatson is transforming healthcare. The cognitive capabilities are becoming an invaluable tool to healthcare professionals in all fields. 

In 2015, IBM bought Merge Healthcare, giving IBM access to over 30 billion medical images.

With Watson’s deep learning capabilities, it can not only spot information doctors miss, but also help diagnose difficult diseases such as melanoma. 

Watson’s cognitive platform also helps identify, diagnose, and treat rare pediatric diseases and cancer.

When fed an individual’s genetic profile, Watson can provide personalized treatment options and contextualized nutrition advice. 

One way to sum it up is that Watson augments intelligence, giving doctors, hospitals, and healthcare providers the insight needed to provide better healthcare to patients throughout the world. 

4. In-depth Examination of Supplier Delays 

Retail operations depend on the effectiveness of their supply chain. A shipping delay can snowball to late orders, unhappy customers, customer retention issues, and a hit to the bottom line. 

Watson analytics provides critical analysis of suppliers beyond reliability.

It can break up information by states or regions to uncover which areas provide the highest average opportunity costs or the highest average margins.

Digging deeper, Watson provides insight into the opportunity costs incurred on delayed shipments verses on-time shipments. 

With another step, Watson can break down opportunity cost by suppliers only for delayed shipments, then easily identify the worst offenders. It can even bring external factors such as weather conditions into the equation. 

With this information, Watson allows businesses to make informed decisions up and down the supply chain and keeps products and margins moving in the right direction. 

5. Providing Next-Generation Analytics to Finance 

Watson’s guided analytics and visualization show patterns and trends impossible to see solely by comparing spreadsheets.

Watson helps determine how collections can be more efficient, what the sales pipeline forecast is for revenue, and what other cost savings opportunities are hiding in the data.

In addition, Watson can identify the factors that contribute to drops in revenue and help lower the risk of financial investments. 

With these capabilities, Watson has infiltrated Wall Street. In September, IBM agreed to buy Promontory Financial Group, a global consulting firm that advises some of the biggest names on Wall Street.

With Watson, IBM is aiming to tackle regulatory compliance. For instance, large banks currently need to hire thousands of compliance officers to sift through the weeds of regulations.

With Watson’s ability to analyze the data at a much faster clip, banks can use these results to lower overhead, improve accuracy, and reduce the high cost of compliance. 

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Written by IBM BP Network